Window for student technology grant extended until Aug. 14
A sign for Sequoyah schools is seen July 23. Cherokee students interested in a Cherokee Naion technology grant now have until Aug. 14 to apply at cherokee.org. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee students who wish to take advantage of a $400 technology grant have an additional week to apply.
“Deputy Chief (Bryan) Warner and I extended the deadline from Aug. 7 to Aug. 14 and expanded eligibility based on feedback from Council members and citizens,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “You can apply online right now at our website, cherokee.org.”
More than 40,000 Cherokee students have already applied for the financial support offered by the Cherokee Nation. In late July, Education Services Executive Director Corey Bunch noted the applications were “coming in quick.”
Cherokee students age 5-18, regardless of income or location, can apply for the grant. Those funds may be used for Wi-Fi, specialized software required for distance learning, internet “hotspots” or related items.
The benefits are part of the CN’s $40 million Respond, Recover and Rebuild Education Initiative that utilizes federal funding. Hoskin said the goal is to help Cherokee students “adapt their learning through COVID-19.”
“We’ve also expanded eligibility,” Hoskin said. “If the student impacted by COVID-19 is a Cherokee citizen, or at least has a pending citizenship application as of Aug. 14, they qualify.”
The CN is requesting patience while applications are evaluated and funds are disbursed.
“For those who applied for the student grants ahead of the original deadline, we’ll process applications as quickly as possible and get the funds in the hands of our students in approximately one week,” Hoskin said. “This program is the largest distribution of funds to Cherokee students in history. So we ask for your patience as the staff processes the payments.”
An online application is available at www.cherokee.org. Click on the blue Respond, Recover and Rebuild Education Initiative link on the front page.
“There are two different ways to call or contact us with questions,” Bunch said. “We have a call bank established. The number is 918-453-5088. The email address is email@example.com
. We’re doing our best to address any questions that the citizens may have.”
Tribal leaders are urging grant recipients to contact their respective schools for guidance on how to best utilize the funds.
“When we started on this process, we discussed making payments to schools directly,” Chief of Staff Todd Enlow said. “We talked about a technology store so that we could buy bulk items. We felt like, at the end of the day, it was best to put it in their hands because every school is doing something different. If they needed to buy a laptop or needed to buy a home internet service or if they needed to buy an iPad or whatever resource they needed to help their technology experience, it gave them the flexibility to do that.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students spent their final months of the 2019-20 school year distance learning. When announcing the education initiative in early July, Hoskin noted that distance learning “has taken on an even greater importance.”
“The very nature of education, how it’s safely delivered in the midst of the biggest public health crisis in generations, has changed dramatically,” he said.
Concurrent enrollment scholarship student applicants will be automatically enrolled for a $750 Educational Technology program, and no additional processing is necessary, according to the CN.
Students are expected to use the money only for technology related uses.
“They’re basically signing an assurance whenever they accept this award that it will applied to the right purposes,” Bunch said.
Also part of the plan is an expanded voucher for school clothing and winter coats.
“For years we’ve helped low-income public schools across Cherokee Nation with a $150 voucher for school clothes and winter coats,” Hoskin said. “This year, for families that have been impacted by COVID-19, we’ll double the amount for low-income students to $300, and for the first time ever, offer a $150 voucher to students across the Cherokee Nation without regard to income and without regard to type of schooling.”
There is a single application for both the $400 and clothing grants, Hoskin said.